The movement Imperative

Sarah Mills 25 May 2022

We live: we move. Movement is so simple, yet vital for life.

Our bodies are designed to move so without movement we cannot live our vital, interactive and best life! Movement gives us great circulation, mental wellbeing and coordination, whilst improving our learning skills. Quite simply, without movement we deteriorate. We have to move our bodies; its an imperative.

Sitting is the new smoking. So what about NEAT?

Research has linked a sedentary lifestyle with back pain, obesity, reduction in bone density, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer and depression. Compared to our agrarian ancestors who may have sat 3-4h per day, in modern western society, you might sit for up to 10-13 hours per day. Really. Estimate: how long do you sit? driving? working? Relaxing? What's your magic number? Likely somewhere between 4 and 13 hours.

How do we challenge our sedentary lifestyle for health and wellbeing? If you sit alot, take more breaks and when you do, Get Up! Simply standing makes a difference. Take a walk during or after lunch during your break. Ride the stairs instead of the lift, and maybe walk to a further bus stop or train station on route to and from work. Walk to your colleague in the office instead of sending an email. Walk to the local shops for grocery top up, instead of driving. And, of course, regular Yoga. Take more opportunities to move, today.

These simple activities increase your NEAT, an acronym for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Non-exercise? Hmm, you might think. How does this work? Quite simply, NEAT is the movement you do and energy you expend whilst engage in normal daily activities which do not include planned gym sport and cardio sessions. 

In the last 10 years, science has supported that NEAT is an important way to boost your metabolism via your BMR (basal metabolic rate). This is the amount of energy your body burns through staying alive (breathing, moving, body temp, heart beating, thinking, even fidgeting!) And the higher your BMR, the more energy you naturally use/burn and the more vital & healthier your mind body will be.

Your BMR is not set in stone; it will be individual to you, but will also depend on your age, fitness level, diet, lifestyle, genetics and weight. NEAT can account for as little as 15% of energy expenditure in the very sedentary and up to 50% in very active individuals. Yes 50%!

This is great news for those of us who maybe have an injury or don't like hot & sweaty exercise! If you think you have a ‘slow metabolism’, yes, you may be right. However, you may not be as active as you need to be for your body type, and you can improve your metabolism, health and wellbeing by increasing your NEAT through Yoga and some of the simple suggestions above. Move More.

Yoga increases your BMR and your NEAT without being a cardio workout. Your body moves consistently through the practise and Yoga safely takes you beyond your usual range of movement for strength, flexibility and pain management. The breathing and pranayama aspect of Yoga also stimulates your metabolic rate.

So whether you commit to Yoga as part of your exercise regime or as regular habitual movement; move frequently and regularly, breathe and Get into Yoga!

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